Archive for February, 2016

29
Feb
16

meanwhile, back at the ranch…

These past few days I have been looking through the various draft chapters of the volume which will present the Crossroads findings. Today I have been reading about cowries at nooru bangu, see here, a site we studied in Bénin; the folded strip roulettes from Kantoro; and charcoal.

There has been a lot of progress and Florence and I now have a substantial set of papers as well as some pretty nifty illustrations of our various finds and data on 42000 sherds or so.

It means looking back over the past 5 years and all we have learnt…

 

 

 

22
Feb
16

what is archaeology

Back in Male’, we were asked to deliver a session to secondary schoolchildren and to colleagues from the Heritage sector, concerning our work.

The session, held at the National Museum, was well attended and the question and answer panel raised some interesting points.

 

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20
Feb
16

nakaiy

At Veyvah, as well as excavation, we carried out surface collections, focusing on what the locals call the ‘Old Road’.

All was going fine

but then the weather turned…

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We nonetheless acquired a sizeable pottery assemblage from these units.

Predominantly the coarse orange ware with sharply everted rims, often grooved.

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20
Feb
16

trees

As I mentioned earlier, one reason we chose Veyvah for our work was that large parts of the island are uninhabited.

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Veyvah from a distance

On the ground, this means dense vegetal cover obscuring a lot of the archaeology. The roads cleared through the forest are the only place you see surface pottery, for instance.

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We targeted various areas.

 

 

 

19
Feb
16

Site 4

Our fourth enquiry took us to the island of Veyvah. We chose this island because an inventory made of the Maldives’ stone mosques in the run-up for a World Heritage application speak of a mosque there alleged to be 400 years old, one of the few surviving coral stone mosques in the country. Also the 2011 Heritage Inventory identifies several remains of historical interest there – a cemetery, a large banyan (nikagas) and a bathing tank. Thirdly, it was clear from aerial photographs that the modern settlement was largely restricted to the northern end of the island whereas the reported heritage was at the centre and south, so we stood a good chance of finding undisturbed archaeology. Finally, Veyvah sits close to the only two channels allowing access into the atoll from the east, and its neighbour is an island which Ragupathy and Mohammed connect with cowries (based on the name).

Much vegetation here!

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The mosque is a fine coral stone building

Traces of former structures everywhere, as well as many gravestones.

And potsherd scatters

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The December 2004 tsunami was mentioned to us repeatedly; this atoll was very affected. We were told that on Veyvah the freshwater lense was contaminated and the remains of past structures and walls were damaged and displaced.

 

18
Feb
16

6.45 in veyvah

Sitting in front of the shop selling water and watching the school run unfold.

We have been here three days and are about to start our last day’s digging.

Cleaning up before starting our first unit

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Many piles of rubble coral stone testify to past collapsed buildings.

 

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But also splendid standing buildings.

More later – raining!

 

15
Feb
16

off to site 4

We leave Malé now to travel to our fourth site. Having visited locations in Haa Alifu, North Malé and Raa atolls, now we head to Meemu atoll.

Looking forward to reporting back from there.

Until then, a big thank you to all the new readers who have accessed this blog from the Maldives. Maldivian readers took over in numbers from our usual stalwarts the UK and Belgium last week! Special mention also to our reader(s) from Burundi, Taiwan, Greece, Norway and Nigeria (don’t worry, I don’t know who you are – just what country you are in).

 

 




About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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